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Posted: October 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm
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Francisco d’Anconia says that the “words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.” What does he mean? What are today’s prevalent moral attitudes toward money? Do you agree with Franciscos view? Explain why or why not.
Atlas Shrugged is both a celebration of business and a defense of it against widespread attacks. Judging from the novel, as well as from Ayn Rand’s essay “What Is Capitalism?” and her speech “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business,” why does she think business should be defended and championed? What does she think is a proper defense of business, and why?
Ragnar Danneskjld says he loves that which has rarely been loved, namely, human ability. What do you think this means? How does it relate to the idea: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”? Do you agree or disagree with Ragnar’s attitude? Explain.
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Posted: October 25, 2016 at 7:36 am
Gene therapy is the therapeutic delivery of nucleic acid polymers into a patient’s cells as a drug to treat disease. The first attempt at modifying human DNA was performed in 1980 by Martin Cline, but the first successful and approved[by whom?] nuclear gene transfer in humans was performed in May 1989. The first therapeutic use of gene transfer as well as the first direct insertion of human DNA into the nuclear genome was performed by French Anderson in a trial starting in September 1990.
Between 1989 and February 2016, over 2,300 clinical trials had been conducted, more than half of them in phase I.
It should be noted that not all medical procedures that introduce alterations to a patient’s genetic makeup can be considered gene therapy. Bone marrow transplantation and organ transplants in general have been found to introduce foreign DNA into patients. Gene therapy is defined by the precision of the procedure and the intention of direct therapeutic effects.
Gene therapy was conceptualized in 1972, by authors who urged caution before commencing human gene therapy studies.
The first attempt, an unsuccessful one, at gene therapy (as well as the first case of medical transfer of foreign genes into humans not counting organ transplantation) was performed by Martin Cline on 10 July 1980. Cline claimed that one of the genes in his patients was active six months later, though he never published this data or had it verified and even if he is correct, it’s unlikely it produced any significant beneficial effects treating beta-thalassemia.
After extensive research on animals throughout the 1980s and a 1989 bacterial gene tagging trial on humans, the first gene therapy widely accepted as a success was demonstrated in a trial that started on September 14, 1990, when Ashi DeSilva was treated for ADA-SCID.
The first somatic treatment that produced a permanent genetic change was performed in 1993.
This procedure was referred to sensationally and somewhat inaccurately in the media as a “three parent baby”, though mtDNA is not the primary human genome and has little effect on an organism’s individual characteristics beyond powering their cells.
Gene therapy is a way to fix a genetic problem at its source. The polymers are either translated into proteins, interfere with target gene expression, or possibly correct genetic mutations.
The most common form uses DNA that encodes a functional, therapeutic gene to replace a mutated gene. The polymer molecule is packaged within a “vector”, which carries the molecule inside cells.
Early clinical failures led to dismissals of gene therapy. Clinical successes since 2006 regained researchers’ attention, although as of 2014, it was still largely an experimental technique. These include treatment of retinal diseases Leber’s congenital amaurosis and choroideremia,X-linked SCID, ADA-SCID,adrenoleukodystrophy,chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL),acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL),multiple myeloma,haemophilia and Parkinson’s disease. Between 2013 and April 2014, US companies invested over $600 million in the field.
The first commercial gene therapy, Gendicine, was approved in China in 2003 for the treatment of certain cancers. In 2011 Neovasculgen was registered in Russia as the first-in-class gene-therapy drug for treatment of peripheral artery disease, including critical limb ischemia. In 2012 Glybera, a treatment for a rare inherited disorder, became the first treatment to be approved for clinical use in either Europe or the United States after its endorsement by the European Commission.
Following early advances in genetic engineering of bacteria, cells, and small animals, scientists started considering how to apply it to medicine. Two main approaches were considered replacing or disrupting defective genes. Scientists focused on diseases caused by single-gene defects, such as cystic fibrosis, haemophilia, muscular dystrophy, thalassemia and sickle cell anemia. Glybera treats one such disease, caused by a defect in lipoprotein lipase.
DNA must be administered, reach the damaged cells, enter the cell and express/disrupt a protein. Multiple delivery techniques have been explored. The initial approach incorporated DNA into an engineered virus to deliver the DNA into a chromosome.Naked DNA approaches have also been explored, especially in the context of vaccine development.
Generally, efforts focused on administering a gene that causes a needed protein to be expressed. More recently, increased understanding of nuclease function has led to more direct DNA editing, using techniques such as zinc finger nucleases and CRISPR. The vector incorporates genes into chromosomes. The expressed nucleases then knock out and replace genes in the chromosome. As of 2014 these approaches involve removing cells from patients, editing a chromosome and returning the transformed cells to patients.
Gene editing is a potential approach to alter the human genome to treat genetic diseases, viral diseases, and cancer. As of 2016 these approaches were still years from being medicine.
Gene therapy may be classified into two types:
In somatic cell gene therapy (SCGT), the therapeutic genes are transferred into any cell other than a gamete, germ cell, gametocyte or undifferentiated stem cell. Any such modifications affect the individual patient only, and are not inherited by offspring. Somatic gene therapy represents mainstream basic and clinical research, in which therapeutic DNA (either integrated in the genome or as an external episome or plasmid) is used to treat disease.
Over 600 clinical trials utilizing SCGT are underway in the US. Most focus on severe genetic disorders, including immunodeficiencies, haemophilia, thalassaemia and cystic fibrosis. Such single gene disorders are good candidates for somatic cell therapy. The complete correction of a genetic disorder or the replacement of multiple genes is not yet possible. Only a few of the trials are in the advanced stages.
In germline gene therapy (GGT), germ cells (sperm or eggs) are modified by the introduction of functional genes into their genomes. Modifying a germ cell causes all the organism’s cells to contain the modified gene. The change is therefore heritable and passed on to later generations. Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Switzerland and the Netherlands prohibit GGT for application in human beings, for technical and ethical reasons, including insufficient knowledge about possible risks to future generations and higher risks versus SCGT. The US has no federal controls specifically addressing human genetic modification (beyond FDA regulations for therapies in general).
The delivery of DNA into cells can be accomplished by multiple methods. The two major classes are recombinant viruses (sometimes called biological nanoparticles or viral vectors) and naked DNA or DNA complexes (non-viral methods).
In order to replicate, viruses introduce their genetic material into the host cell, tricking the host’s cellular machinery into using it as blueprints for viral proteins. Scientists exploit this by substituting a virus’s genetic material with therapeutic DNA. (The term ‘DNA’ may be an oversimplification, as some viruses contain RNA, and gene therapy could take this form as well.) A number of viruses have been used for human gene therapy, including retrovirus, adenovirus, lentivirus, herpes simplex, vaccinia and adeno-associated virus. Like the genetic material (DNA or RNA) in viruses, therapeutic DNA can be designed to simply serve as a temporary blueprint that is degraded naturally or (at least theoretically) to enter the host’s genome, becoming a permanent part of the host’s DNA in infected cells.
Non-viral methods present certain advantages over viral methods, such as large scale production and low host immunogenicity. However, non-viral methods initially produced lower levels of transfection and gene expression, and thus lower therapeutic efficacy. Later technology remedied this deficiency.
Methods for non-viral gene therapy include the injection of naked DNA, electroporation, the gene gun, sonoporation, magnetofection, the use of oligonucleotides, lipoplexes, dendrimers, and inorganic nanoparticles.
Some of the unsolved problems include:
Three patients’ deaths have been reported in gene therapy trials, putting the field under close scrutiny. The first was that of Jesse Gelsinger in 1999. One X-SCID patient died of leukemia in 2003. In 2007, a rheumatoid arthritis patient died from an infection; the subsequent investigation concluded that the death was not related to gene therapy.
In 1972 Friedmann and Roblin authored a paper in Science titled “Gene therapy for human genetic disease?” Rogers (1970) was cited for proposing that exogenous good DNA be used to replace the defective DNA in those who suffer from genetic defects.
In 1984 a retrovirus vector system was designed that could efficiently insert foreign genes into mammalian chromosomes.
The first approved gene therapy clinical research in the US took place on 14 September 1990, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), under the direction of William French Anderson. Four-year-old Ashanti DeSilva received treatment for a genetic defect that left her with ADA-SCID, a severe immune system deficiency. The effects were temporary, but successful.
Cancer gene therapy was introduced in 1992/93 (Trojan et al. 1993). The treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, the malignant brain tumor whose outcome is always fatal, was done using a vector expressing antisense IGF-I RNA (clinical trial approved by NIH n 1602, and FDA in 1994). This therapy also represents the beginning of cancer immunogene therapy, a treatment which proves to be effective due to the anti-tumor mechanism of IGF-I antisense, which is related to strong immune and apoptotic phenomena.
In 1992 Claudio Bordignon, working at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, performed the first gene therapy procedure using hematopoietic stem cells as vectors to deliver genes intended to correct hereditary diseases. In 2002 this work led to the publication of the first successful gene therapy treatment for adenosine deaminase-deficiency (SCID). The success of a multi-center trial for treating children with SCID (severe combined immune deficiency or “bubble boy” disease) from 2000 and 2002, was questioned when two of the ten children treated at the trial’s Paris center developed a leukemia-like condition. Clinical trials were halted temporarily in 2002, but resumed after regulatory review of the protocol in the US, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany.
In 1993 Andrew Gobea was born with SCID following prenatal genetic screening. Blood was removed from his mother’s placenta and umbilical cord immediately after birth, to acquire stem cells. The allele that codes for adenosine deaminase (ADA) was obtained and inserted into a retrovirus. Retroviruses and stem cells were mixed, after which the viruses inserted the gene into the stem cell chromosomes. Stem cells containing the working ADA gene were injected into Andrew’s blood. Injections of the ADA enzyme were also given weekly. For four years T cells (white blood cells), produced by stem cells, made ADA enzymes using the ADA gene. After four years more treatment was needed.
Jesse Gelsinger’s death in 1999 impeded gene therapy research in the US. As a result, the FDA suspended several clinical trials pending the reevaluation of ethical and procedural practices.
The modified cancer gene therapy strategy of antisense IGF-I RNA (NIH n 1602) using antisense / triple helix anti IGF-I approach was registered in 2002 by Wiley gene therapy clinical trial – n 635 and 636. The approach has shown promising results in the treatment of six different malignant tumors: glioblastoma, cancers of liver, colon, prostate, uterus and ovary (Collaborative NATO Science Programme on Gene Therapy USA, France, Poland n LST 980517 conducted by J. Trojan) (Trojan et al., 2012). This antigene antisense/triple helix therapy has proven to be efficient, due to the mechanism stopping simultaneously IGF-I expression on translation and transcription levels, strengthening anti-tumor immune and apoptotic phenomena.
Sickle-cell disease can be treated in mice. The mice which have essentially the same defect that causes human cases used a viral vector to induce production of fetal hemoglobin (HbF), which normally ceases to be produced shortly after birth. In humans, the use of hydroxyurea to stimulate the production of HbF temporarily alleviates sickle cell symptoms. The researchers demonstrated this treatment to be a more permanent means to increase therapeutic HbF production.
A new gene therapy approach repaired errors in messenger RNA derived from defective genes. This technique has the potential to treat thalassaemia, cystic fibrosis and some cancers.
Researchers created liposomes 25 nanometers across that can carry therapeutic DNA through pores in the nuclear membrane.
In 2003 a research team inserted genes into the brain for the first time. They used liposomes coated in a polymer called polyethylene glycol, which, unlike viral vectors, are small enough to cross the bloodbrain barrier.
Short pieces of double-stranded RNA (short, interfering RNAs or siRNAs) are used by cells to degrade RNA of a particular sequence. If a siRNA is designed to match the RNA copied from a faulty gene, then the abnormal protein product of that gene will not be produced.
Gendicine is a cancer gene therapy that delivers the tumor suppressor gene p53 using an engineered adenovirus. In 2003, it was approved in China for the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
In March researchers announced the successful use of gene therapy to treat two adult patients for X-linked chronic granulomatous disease, a disease which affects myeloid cells and damages the immune system. The study is the first to show that gene therapy can treat the myeloid system.
In May a team reported a way to prevent the immune system from rejecting a newly delivered gene. Similar to organ transplantation, gene therapy has been plagued by this problem. The immune system normally recognizes the new gene as foreign and rejects the cells carrying it. The research utilized a newly uncovered network of genes regulated by molecules known as microRNAs. This natural function selectively obscured their therapeutic gene in immune system cells and protected it from discovery. Mice infected with the gene containing an immune-cell microRNA target sequence did not reject the gene.
In August scientists successfully treated metastatic melanoma in two patients using killer T cells genetically retargeted to attack the cancer cells.
In November researchers reported on the use of VRX496, a gene-based immunotherapy for the treatment of HIV that uses a lentiviral vector to deliver an antisense gene against the HIV envelope. In a phase I clinical trial, five subjects with chronic HIV infection who had failed to respond to at least two antiretroviral regimens were treated. A single intravenous infusion of autologous CD4 T cells genetically modified with VRX496 was well tolerated. All patients had stable or decreased viral load; four of the five patients had stable or increased CD4 T cell counts. All five patients had stable or increased immune response to HIV antigens and other pathogens. This was the first evaluation of a lentiviral vector administered in a US human clinical trial.
In May researchers announced the first gene therapy trial for inherited retinal disease. The first operation was carried out on a 23-year-old British male, Robert Johnson, in early 2007.
Leber’s congenital amaurosis is an inherited blinding disease caused by mutations in the RPE65 gene. The results of a small clinical trial in children were published in April. Delivery of recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) carrying RPE65 yielded positive results. In May two more groups reported positive results in independent clinical trials using gene therapy to treat the condition. In all three clinical trials, patients recovered functional vision without apparent side-effects.
In September researchers were able to give trichromatic vision to squirrel monkeys. In November 2009, researchers halted a fatal genetic disorder called adrenoleukodystrophy in two children using a lentivirus vector to deliver a functioning version of ABCD1, the gene that is mutated in the disorder.
An April paper reported that gene therapy addressed achromatopsia (color blindness) in dogs by targeting cone photoreceptors. Cone function and day vision were restored for at least 33 months in two young specimens. The therapy was less efficient for older dogs.
In September it was announced that an 18-year-old male patient in France with beta-thalassemia major had been successfully treated. Beta-thalassemia major is an inherited blood disease in which beta haemoglobin is missing and patients are dependent on regular lifelong blood transfusions. The technique used a lentiviral vector to transduce the human -globin gene into purified blood and marrow cells obtained from the patient in June 2007. The patient’s haemoglobin levels were stable at 9 to 10 g/dL. About a third of the hemoglobin contained the form introduced by the viral vector and blood transfusions were not needed. Further clinical trials were planned.Bone marrow transplants are the only cure for thalassemia, but 75% of patients do not find a matching donor.
Cancer immunogene therapy using modified anti gene, antisense / triple helix approach was introduced in South America in 2010/11 in La Sabana University, Bogota (Ethical Committee 14.12.2010, no P-004-10). Considering the ethical aspect of gene diagnostic and gene therapy targeting IGF-I, the IGF-I expressing tumors i.e. lung and epidermis cancers, were treated (Trojan et al. 2016). 
In 2007 and 2008, a man was cured of HIV by repeated Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (see also Allogeneic stem cell transplantation, Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation, Allotransplantation) with double-delta-32 mutation which disables the CCR5 receptor. This cure was accepted by the medical community in 2011. It required complete ablation of existing bone marrow, which is very debilitating.
In August two of three subjects of a pilot study were confirmed to have been cured from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The therapy used genetically modified T cells to attack cells that expressed the CD19 protein to fight the disease. In 2013, the researchers announced that 26 of 59 patients had achieved complete remission and the original patient had remained tumor-free.
Human HGF plasmid DNA therapy of cardiomyocytes is being examined as a potential treatment for coronary artery disease as well as treatment for the damage that occurs to the heart after myocardial infarction.
In 2011 Neovasculgen was registered in Russia as the first-in-class gene-therapy drug for treatment of peripheral artery disease, including critical limb ischemia; it delivers the gene encoding for VEGF. Neovasculogen is a plasmid encoding the CMV promoter and the 165 amino acid form of VEGF.
The FDA approved Phase 1 clinical trials on thalassemia major patients in the US for 10 participants in July. The study was expected to continue until 2015.
In July 2012, the European Medicines Agency recommended approval of a gene therapy treatment for the first time in either Europe or the United States. The treatment used Alipogene tiparvovec (Glybera) to compensate for lipoprotein lipase deficiency, which can cause severe pancreatitis. The recommendation was endorsed by the European Commission in November 2012 and commercial rollout began in late 2014.
In December 2012, it was reported that 10 of 13 patients with multiple myeloma were in remission “or very close to it” three months after being injected with a treatment involving genetically engineered T cells to target proteins NY-ESO-1 and LAGE-1, which exist only on cancerous myeloma cells.
In March researchers reported that three of five subjects who had acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) had been in remission for five months to two years after being treated with genetically modified T cells which attacked cells with CD19 genes on their surface, i.e. all B-cells, cancerous or not. The researchers believed that the patients’ immune systems would make normal T-cells and B-cells after a couple of months. They were also given bone marrow. One patient relapsed and died and one died of a blood clot unrelated to the disease.
Following encouraging Phase 1 trials, in April, researchers announced they were starting Phase 2 clinical trials (called CUPID2 and SERCA-LVAD) on 250 patients at several hospitals to combat heart disease. The therapy was designed to increase the levels of SERCA2, a protein in heart muscles, improving muscle function. The FDA granted this a Breakthrough Therapy Designation to accelerate the trial and approval process. In 2016 it was reported that no improvement was found from the CUPID 2 trial.
In July researchers reported promising results for six children with two severe hereditary diseases had been treated with a partially deactivated lentivirus to replace a faulty gene and after 732 months. Three of the children had metachromatic leukodystrophy, which causes children to lose cognitive and motor skills. The other children had Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, which leaves them to open to infection, autoimmune diseases and cancer. Follow up trials with gene therapy on another six children with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome were also reported as promising.
In October researchers reported that two children born with adenosine deaminase severe combined immunodeficiency disease (ADA-SCID) had been treated with genetically engineered stem cells 18 months previously and that their immune systems were showing signs of full recovery. Another three children were making progress. In 2014 a further 18 children with ADA-SCID were cured by gene therapy. ADA-SCID children have no functioning immune system and are sometimes known as “bubble children.”
Also in October researchers reported that they had treated six haemophilia sufferers in early 2011 using an adeno-associated virus. Over two years later all six were producing clotting factor.
Data from three trials on Topical cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene therapy were reported to not support its clinical use as a mist inhaled into the lungs to treat cystic fibrosis patients with lung infections.
In January researchers reported that six choroideremia patients had been treated with adeno-associated virus with a copy of REP1. Over a six-month to two-year period all had improved their sight. By 2016, 32 patients had been treated with positive results and researchers were hopeful the treatment would be long-lasting. Choroideremia is an inherited genetic eye disease with no approved treatment, leading to loss of sight.
In March researchers reported that 12 HIV patients had been treated since 2009 in a trial with a genetically engineered virus with a rare mutation (CCR5 deficiency) known to protect against HIV with promising results.
Clinical trials of gene therapy for sickle cell disease were started in 2014 although one review failed to find any such trials.
In February LentiGlobin BB305, a gene therapy treatment undergoing clinical trials for treatment of beta thalassemia gained FDA “breakthrough” status after several patients were able to forgo the frequent blood transfusions usually required to treat the disease.
In March researchers delivered a recombinant gene encoding a broadly neutralizing antibody into monkeys infected with simian HIV; the monkeys’ cells produced the antibody, which cleared them of HIV. The technique is named immunoprophylaxis by gene transfer (IGT). Animal tests for antibodies to ebola, malaria, influenza and hepatitis are underway.
In March scientists, including an inventor of CRISPR, urged a worldwide moratorium on germline gene therapy, writing scientists should avoid even attempting, in lax jurisdictions, germline genome modification for clinical application in humans until the full implications are discussed among scientific and governmental organizations.
Also in 2015 Glybera was approved for the German market.
In October, researchers announced that they had treated a baby girl, Layla Richards, with an experimental treatment using donor T-cells genetically engineered to attack cancer cells. Two months after the treatment she was still free of her cancer (a highly aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia [ALL]). Children with highly aggressive ALL normally have a very poor prognosis and Layla’s disease had been regarded as terminal before the treatment.
In December, scientists of major world academies called for a moratorium on inheritable human genome edits, including those related to CRISPR-Cas9 technologies but that basic research including embryo gene editing should continue.
In April the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency endorsed a gene therapy treatment called Strimvelis and recommended it be approved. This treats children born with ADA-SCID and who have no functioning immune system – sometimes called the “bubble baby” disease. This would be the second gene therapy treatment to be approved in Europe.
Speculated uses for gene therapy include:
Gene Therapy techniques have the potential to provide alternative treatments for those with infertility. Recently, successful experimentation on mice has proven that fertility can be restored by using the gene therapy method, CRISPR. Spermatogenical stem cells from another organism were transplanted into the testes of an infertile male mouse. The stem cells re-established spermatogenesis and fertility.
Athletes might adopt gene therapy technologies to improve their performance.Gene doping is not known to occur, but multiple gene therapies may have such effects. Kayser et al. argue that gene doping could level the playing field if all athletes receive equal access. Critics claim that any therapeutic intervention for non-therapeutic/enhancement purposes compromises the ethical foundations of medicine and sports.
Genetic engineering could be used to change physical appearance, metabolism, and even improve physical capabilities and mental faculties such as memory and intelligence. Ethical claims about germline engineering include beliefs that every fetus has a right to remain genetically unmodified, that parents hold the right to genetically modify their offspring, and that every child has the right to be born free of preventable diseases. For adults, genetic engineering could be seen as another enhancement technique to add to diet, exercise, education, cosmetics and plastic surgery. Another theorist claims that moral concerns limit but do not prohibit germline engineering.
Possible regulatory schemes include a complete ban, provision to everyone, or professional self-regulation. The American Medical Associations Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs stated that “genetic interventions to enhance traits should be considered permissible only in severely restricted situations: (1) clear and meaningful benefits to the fetus or child; (2) no trade-off with other characteristics or traits; and (3) equal access to the genetic technology, irrespective of income or other socioeconomic characteristics.”
As early in the history of biotechnology as 1990, there have been scientists opposed to attempts to modify the human germline using these new tools, and such concerns have continued as technology progressed. With the advent of new techniques like CRISPR, in March 2015 a group of scientists urged a worldwide moratorium on clinical use of gene editing technologies to edit the human genome in a way that can be inherited. In April 2015, researchers sparked controversy when they reported results of basic research to edit the DNA of non-viable human embryos using CRISPR.
Regulations covering genetic modification are part of general guidelines about human-involved biomedical research.
The Helsinki Declaration (Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects) was amended by the World Medical Association’s General Assembly in 2008. This document provides principles physicians and researchers must consider when involving humans as research subjects. The Statement on Gene Therapy Research initiated by the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) in 2001 provides a legal baseline for all countries. HUGOs document emphasizes human freedom and adherence to human rights, and offers recommendations for somatic gene therapy, including the importance of recognizing public concerns about such research.
No federal legislation lays out protocols or restrictions about human genetic engineering. This subject is governed by overlapping regulations from local and federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA and NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee. Researchers seeking federal funds for an investigational new drug application, (commonly the case for somatic human genetic engineering), must obey international and federal guidelines for the protection of human subjects.
NIH serves as the main gene therapy regulator for federally funded research. Privately funded research is advised to follow these regulations. NIH provides funding for research that develops or enhances genetic engineering techniques and to evaluate the ethics and quality in current research. The NIH maintains a mandatory registry of human genetic engineering research protocols that includes all federally funded projects.
An NIH advisory committee published a set of guidelines on gene manipulation. The guidelines discuss lab safety as well as human test subjects and various experimental types that involve genetic changes. Several sections specifically pertain to human genetic engineering, including Section III-C-1. This section describes required review processes and other aspects when seeking approval to begin clinical research involving genetic transfer into a human patient. The protocol for a gene therapy clinical trial must be approved by the NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee prior to any clinical trial beginning; this is different from any other kind of clinical trial.
As with other kinds of drugs, the FDA regulates the quality and safety of gene therapy products and supervises how these products are used clinically. Therapeutic alteration of the human genome falls under the same regulatory requirements as any other medical treatment. Research involving human subjects, such as clinical trials, must be reviewed and approved by the FDA and an Institutional Review Board.
Gene therapy is the basis for the plotline of the film I Am Legend and the TV show Will Gene Therapy Change the Human Race?.
Gene therapy – Wikipedia
Posted: at 7:35 am
This article is about the one-way manned trip to Mars proposed for 2026. For the first Soviet spacecraft for Mars, see Mars 1. For other uses, see Mars 1 (disambiguation).
Mars One is an organization based in the Netherlands that has proposed to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2026. The private spaceflight project is led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, who announced the Mars One project in May 2012. The project’s schedule, technical and financial feasibility, and ethics, have been criticized by scientists, engineers and those in the aerospace industry.
Mars One’s original concept included launching a robotic lander and orbiter as early as 2016 to be followed by a human crew of four in 2022. Organizers plan for the crew to be selected from applicants who paid an administrative fee, to become the first permanent residents of Mars with no plan of returning to Earth. Partial funding options, which have yet to be realized, include a proposed reality television program documenting the journey. In February 2015, the primary contractors on the initial pre-Phase A contracts had completed all studies paid for by Mars One at that time. The current state of the Mission Plan Deliverables (either in the form of Studies or actual Hardware) will be tracked in Table 2 in the Technology section.
The Mars One organization is the controlling stockholder of the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group.
The concept for Mars One began in 2011 with discussions between the two founders, Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders.
The Mars One project has no connection with Inspiration Mars, a similarly-timed project to send a married couple on a Mars flyby and return them to Earth over a period of 500 days.
Mars One publicly announced the concept in May 2012 for a one-way trip to Mars, with the intention of an initial robotic precursor mission in 2020 and transporting the first human colonists to Mars in 2024. In a 2015 debate, Bas Lansdrop clarified that “were not going to do, I think, the current design of the mission” and “Mars One’s goal is not to send humans to Mars in 2027 with a $6 billion budget and 14 launches. Our goal is to send humans to Mars, period.” According to Mars One’s website, “It is Mars One’s goal to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.”
In December 2013, Mars One announced its concept of a robotic precursor mission in 2018, two years later than had been conceptually planned in the 2012 announcements. The robotic lander would be “built by Lockheed Martin based on the design used for NASA’s Phoenix and InSight missions, as well as a communications orbiter built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.” In February 2015, Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology confirmed that contracts on the initial study phase begun in late 2013 had run out and additional contracts had not been received for further progress on the robotic missions. Plans have been disclosed to raise the US$200 million or more needed to support the initial robotic mission, but some critics do not find the economic plans to raise money from private investors and exclusive broadcasting rights to be sufficient to support the initial, or follow-on, mission(s).
Mars One selected a second-round pool of astronaut candidates in 2013 of 1058 people”586 men and 472 women from 107 countries”from a larger number of 202,586 who initially showed interest on the Mars One website, although this number is heavily disputed. Former Mars One candidate Dr. Joseph Roche claims the number of initial applicants was only 2,761, which Mars One later conceded via YouTube video.
Mars One announced a partnership with Uwingu on 3 March 2014, stating that the program would use Uwingu’s map of Mars in all of their planned missions.Kristian von Bengtson began work on Simulation Mars Home for crew on 24 March 2014.
The second-round pool was whittled down to 705 candidates (418 men and 287 women) in the beginning of May 2014. 353 were removed due to personal considerations. After the medical physical requirement, which was similar to a normal FAA exam plus EKG, due either to financial, health or access reasons, only 660 candidates remained. Notably, some applicants were notified of life-threatening conditions such as early-stage cancer and were able to immediately begin treatment. These selected persons will then begin the interview process following which several teams of two men and two women will be compiled. The teams will then begin training full-time for a potential future mission to Mars, while individuals and teams may be selected out during training if they are not deemed suitable for the mission.
On June 2, 2014, Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP) announced it has gained exclusive access to Mars One.
On June 30, 2014, it was made public that Mars One seeks financial investment through a bidding process to send company experiments to Mars. The experiment slots will go to the highest bidder and will include company-related ads, and the opportunity to have the company name on the robotic lander that is proposed to carry the experiments to Mars in 2018.
Mars One selected a third-round pool of astronaut candidates in 2015 of 100 people “50 men and 50 women who successfully passed the second round. The candidates come from all around the world, namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania”.
In a video posted on 19 of March 2015, Lansdorp said that because of delays in the robotic precursor mission, the first crew will not set down on Mars until 2027. In August 2015, Lansdorp reiterated that their 12-year plan for landing humans on Mars by 2027 is subject to constant improvement and updates.
The Space Review reported in October 2016 that while Mars One was “successful in generating a tremendous amount of publicity as well as enormous excitement about Mars, … its proposal lacked substance both in mission architecture and in workable funding mechanisms. As such, it has faded from the public consciousness.”
According to their schedule as of March 2015, the first crew of four astronauts would arrive on Mars in 2027, after a seven-month journey from Earth. Additional teams would join the settlement every two years, with the intention that by 2035 there would be over twenty people living and working on Mars. The astronaut selection process began on 22 April 2013.
As of July 2015[update], the fourth round astronaut selection process, planned for Sept 2016, by which Mars One will choose six teams of four out of the 100 people selected in the third round, was announced.
In December 2013, mission concept studies for an unmanned Mars mission were contracted with Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology for a demonstration mission to be launched in 2017 and land on Mars in 2018. It would be based on the design of the successful 2007 NASA Phoenix lander, and provide proof of concept for a subset of the key technologies for a later permanent human settlement on Mars. Upon submission of Lockheed Martin’s Proposal Information Package, Mars One released a Request for Proposals for the various payloads on the lander. The total payload mass of 44kg is divided among the seven payloads as follows:
In 2022, an unmanned rover will be launched to Mars in order to pick a landing site for the 2027 Mars One landing and a site for the Mars One colony. At the same time, a communication satellite will be launched, enabling continuous communication with the Mars One colony.
In 2024, the 6 cargo missions will be launched in close succession, consisting of two living units, two life-support units, and two supply units.
A spacecraft containing four astronauts will be launched from Earth to meet a Transit vehicle bound for Mars.
In 2027, the landing module will land on Mars, containing four astronauts. They will be met by the rover launched in 2020, and taken to the Mars One colony.
The application was available from 22 April 2013 to 31 August 2013. This first application consists of applicants general information, a motivational letter, a rsum and a video. More than 200,000 people expressed interest, so Mars One plans to hold several other application periods in the future.
By 9 September 2013, 4,227 applicants had paid their registration fee and submitted public videos in which they made their case for going to Mars in 2023. The application fee varies from US $5 to US $75 (the amount depending on the relative wealth of the applicant’s country).
Distribution of the 1,058 applicants selected for Round 2 according to the academic degree
The results of applicants selected for round 2 were declared on 30 December 2013. A total of 1,058 applicants from 107 countries were selected. The gender split is 586 male (55.4%) and 472 female (44.6%). Among the people that were selected for round 2, 159 have a master’s degree, 347 have bachelor’s degrees and 29 have Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degrees. The majority of the applicants are under 36 and well educated.
Medically cleared candidates were interviewed, and 50 men and 50 women from the total pool of 660 from around the world were selected to move on to the third round of the astronaut selection process:
Although initial plans were for the Mars One selection committee to perform regional interviews around the world, applicants were ultimately remotely interviewed and recorded by Mars One over a relatively short Skype/SparkHire call regarding Martian-related orbital, temp/pressure, geological and historical parameters and the specific elements of the Mars One one-way mission. Dr. Joseph Roche, one of the finalists, has accused the selection process of being based on a point system that is primarily dependent on how much money each individual generated or gave to the Mars One organization, despite many of the round three selectees having not spent any money in the process, apart from the application fee, which varied as a function of each applicant’s country GDP. Lansdorp acknowledges a “gamification” point system but denies that selection is based on money earned. Roche also stated that if paid for interviews, they are asked to donate 75% of the payment to Mars One. This was confirmed by Lansdorp.
It was originally planned that the pool of roughly one thousand successful applicants would be narrowed through regional contests. These events did not take place, and the above-mentioned group of 100 candidates were selected through the remote interview process and selected directly to round 3 in February 2015.
In late 2013, details of the 2015 selection phases had not been agreed upon due to ongoing negotiations with media companies for the rights to televise the selection processes.[needs update]
It was planned that the regional selection may be broadcast on TV and Internet in countries around the world. In each region, plans included 2040 applicants participating in challenges including rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of the remaining candidates, with the aim of demonstrating their suitability to become the first humans on Mars. The audience was to select one winner per region, and the experts could select additional participants, if needed, to continue to the international level.[needs update]
Round three takes place in 2016[needs update], over the course of 5 days. At the start of the event, the candidates organize themselves into groups of 105 men and 5 women of diverse nationalities and age groups.
The Mars One selection committee then sets up group dynamic challenges and provide study materials related to each challenge. This allow them to observe how the candidates work in a group setting and choose candidates for elimination.[needs update]
At the end of each day all the teams except the winner lose members; then they reorganize themselves for the following day. At the end 40 candidates remain.
The remaining 40 candidates are spending nine days in an isolation unit. The candidates are observed closely to examine how they act in situations of prolonged close contact with one another. This test is implemented because, during the journey to Mars and upon arrival, the candidates will spend 24 hours a day with each other and during this time the simplest things may start to become bothersome. It takes a specific team dynamic to be able to handle this, and the goal of this selection round is to find those that are best suited for this challenge.
After the isolation round, 30 candidates are chosen to partake in a Mars Settler Suitability Interview.
The Mars Settler Suitability Interview measures suitability for long duration Space missions and Mars settlement and will last approximately 4 hours. 24 candidates are selected after the interview and will be offered full-time employment with Mars One.
From the previous selection series, six groups of four are to become full-time employees of the Mars One astronaut corps, after which they are to train for the mission. Whole teams and individuals might be deselected during training if they prove not to be suitable for the mission. Six to ten teams of four people are to be selected for seven years of full-time training.
Mars One funding comes from private investment (undisclosed), intellectual property (IP) rights, the sale of future broadcasting rights, and astronaut application fees.
Mars One’s investment of revenues
Concept design studies (78.3%)
Travel expenses (11.6%)
Legal expenses (3.3%)
Website maintenance (2.4%)
Office and other (2.1%)
On January 29, 2013, Mars One announced its initial batch of investors from the Netherlands and South Africa. The value of the investment remains undisclosed.
Mars One initially estimated a one-way trip, excluding the cost of maintaining four astronauts on Mars until they die, at 6 billion USD. Lansdorp has declined questions regarding the cost estimate because he believes “it would be very stupid for us to give the prices that have been quoted per component”. For comparison, an “austere” manned Mars mission (including a temporary stay followed by a return of the astronauts) proposed by NASA in 2009 had a projected cost of $100 billion USD after an 18-year program, including a NASA-required return component.
Mars One, the not-for-profit foundation, is the controlling stockholder of the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group. A proposed global “reality-TV” media event was intended to provide funds to finance the expedition, however, no such reality TV show has emerged and no contracts have been signed. The astronaut selection process (with some public participation) was to be televised and continue on through the first years of living on Mars.
Discussions between Endemol, producers of the Big Brother series, and Mars One ended with Endemol subsidiary Darlow Smithson Productions issuing a statement in February 2015 that they “were unable to reach agreement on the details of the contract” and that the company was “no longer involved in the project.” Lansdorp updated plans to no longer include live broadcasts from Mars but instead rely on a documentary-style production, adding “Just like the Olympics, we watch highlights, we don’t watch things that athletes do when they’re not performing their abilities.”
On 31 August 2012, company officials announced that funding from its first sponsors had been received. Corporate sponsorship money will be used mostly to fund the conceptual design studies provided by the aerospace suppliers.
Since the official announcement of their conversion to a Stichting, Mars One has been accepting one-time and regular monthly donations through their website. As of 4 July 2016, Mars One had received $928,888 in donations and merchandise sales. The recent donation update adds the Indiegogo campaign ($313,744) to the private donation and merchandise total.
Over three quarters of the investment is in concept design studies. Mars One states that “income from donations and merchandise have not been used to pay salaries”. To date, no financial records have been released for public viewing.
On 10 December 2013, Mars One set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to fund their 2018 demonstration mission. The 2018 mission includes a lander and communications satellite, and aims to prove several mission critical technologies in addition to launch and landing. The campaign goal was to raise $400,000 USD by 25 January 2014. Since the ending date was drawing near, they decided to extend the ending date to 9 February 2014. By the end of the campaign, they had received $313,744 in funds. Indiegogo will receive 9% ($28,237) of the $313,744 for the campaign failing to achieve its goal.
Mars One has identified at least one potential supplier for each component of the mission. The major components are planned to be acquired from proven suppliers. As of May 2013[update], Mars One has a contract with only one company, Paragon Space Development Corporation, for a preliminary life support study.
The Falcon Heavy from SpaceX was the notional launcher in the early Mars One conceptual plan, which included the notional use of SpaceX hardware for the lander and crew habitat, but, as of May 2013, SpaceX had not yet been contracted to supply mission hardware, and SpaceX has stated that it did “not currently have a relationship with Mars One.” By March 2014, SpaceX indicated that they had been contacted by Mars One, and were in discussions, but that accommodating Mars One requirements would require some additional work and that such work was not a part of the current focus of SpaceX.
A manned interplanetary spacecraft, which would transport the crew to Mars, would be assembled in low Earth orbit and comprise two propellant modules: a Transit Living Module (discarded just before arrival at Mars) and a lander (see “Human Lander” below).
A potential supplier for the Transit living module as of November 2012[update] was Thales Alenia Space.[non-primary source needed]
Contract has been signed with Lockheed Martin to build the Demo Lander with the same designs as the Phoenix lander that went to Mars.
In December 2013 Mars One awarded a contract to Surrey Satellite Technology for a study of the satellite technology required to provide 24/7 communication between Earth and the Mars base. Mars One proposed at least two satellites, one in areostationary orbit above Mars and a second at the Earth Sun L4 or L5 point to relay the signal when Mars blocks the areosynchronous satellite from line of sight to Earth. It is possible that a third satellite will be required to relay the signal on the rare occasions when the Sun blocks the first relay satellite from line of sight with Earth.
An early notional Mars One lander was shown in concept art as a 5 meters (16ft)-diameter variant of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule. SpaceX has not agreed for their technoogy to be used by the Mars One project.
The rover would be unpressurized and support travel distances of 80km (50 miles). A potential supplier for the rover as of November 2012[update] was Astrobotic Technology.[non-primary source needed]
The Mars suit would be flexible to allow the settlers to work with both cumbersome construction materials and sophisticated machinery when they are outside the habitat while protecting them from the cold, low pressure and noxious gases of the Martian atmosphere. The likely supplier of the suits is ILC Dover. On 12 March 2013, Paragon Space Development Corporation was contracted to develop concepts for life support and the Mars Surface Exploration Spacesuit System. The Paragon Space Development Corporation study was stated to be finished late summer 2013; Mars One released the results of this (ECLSS portion only) study to the public in June 2015. The Mars suit study portion of the original contract has just entered ITAR review, with a publicly accessible copy available once passed through review.
Mars One has received a variety of criticism, mostly relating to medical, technical and financial feasibility. There are also unverified claims that Mars One is a scam designed to take as much money as possible from donors, including reality show contestants. Many have criticized the project’s US$6 billion budget as being too low to successfully transport humans to Mars, to the point of being delusional. A similar project study by NASA estimated the cost of such a feat at US$100 billion, although that included transporting the astronauts back to Earth. Objections have also been raised regarding the reality TV project associated with the expedition. Given the transient nature of most reality TV ventures, many believe that as viewership declines, funding could significantly decrease, thereby harming the entire expedition. Further, TV reality show contestants have reported that they were ranked based on their donations and funds raised.
John Logsdon, a space policy expert at George Washington University, criticized the program, saying it appears to be a scam and not “a credible proposition”.
Chris Welch, director of Masters Programs at the International Space University, has said “Even ignoring the potential mismatch between the project income and its costs and questions about its longer-term viability, the Mars One proposal does not demonstrate a sufficiently deep understanding of the problems to give real confidence that the project would be able to meet its very ambitious schedule.”
Gerard ‘t Hooft, theoretical physicist and ambassador to Mars One, has stated that he thought both their proposed schedule and budget were off by a factor of ten. He said he still supported the project’s overall goals.
A space logistics analysis conducted by PhD candidates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed that the most optimistic of scenarios would require 15 Falcon Heavy launches that would cost approximately $4.5 billion. They concluded that the reliability of Environmental Control and Life Support systems (ECLS), the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), and in situ resource utilization (ISRU) would have to be improved. Additionally, they determined that if the costs of launch were also lowered dramatically, together this would help to reduce the mass and cost of Mars settlement architecture. The environmental system would result in failure to be able to support human life in 68 days if fire safety standards on over-oxygenation were followed, due to excessive use of nitrogen supplies that would not then be able to be used to compensate leakage of air out of the habitat, leading to a resultant loss in pressurization, ending with pressures too low to support human life. Lansdorp replied that although he has not read all the research, supplier Lockheed Martin says that the technologies were viable.
Another serious concern uncovered in the research conducted by MIT is replacement parts. The PhD candidates estimated the need for spare parts in a Mars colony based on the failure rates of parts on the ISS. They determined that a resupply mission every two years would be necessary unless a large space in the initial launch were to be reserved for extra materials. Lansdorp commented on this saying, “They are correct. The major challenge of Mars One is keeping everything up and running. We don’t believe what we have designed is the best solution. It’s a good solution.”
In March 2015, one of the Mars One finalists, Joseph Roche, stated to media outlets that he believes the mission to be a scam. Roche holds doctorate degrees in physics and astrophysics, and shared many of his concerns and criticisms of the mission. These claims include that the organization lied about the number of applicants, stating that 200,000 individuals applied versus Roche’s claim of 2,761, and that many of the applicants had paid to be put on the list. Furthermore, Roche claimed that Mars One is asking finalists for donations from any money earned from guest appearances (which would amount to a minimal portion of the estimated $6 billion required for the mission). Finally, despite being one of 100 finalists, Roche himself has never spoken to any Mars One employee or representative in person, and instead of psychological or psychometric testing as is normal for astronaut candidates (especially for a lengthy, one-way mission), his interview process consisted of a 10-minute Skype conversation.
Robert Zubrin, advocate for manned Martian exploration, said “I don’t think the business plan closes it. We’re going to go to Mars, we need a billion dollars, and we’re going to make up the revenue with advertising and media rights and so on. You might be able to make up some of the money that way, but I don’t think that anyone who is interested in making money is going to invest on that basis invest in this really risky proposition, and if you’re lucky you’ll break even? That doesn’t fly.” Despite his criticisms, Zubrin became an adviser to Mars One on 10 October 2013.
Canadian former astronaut Julie Payette said during the opening speech for an International Civil Aviation Organization conference that she does not think Mars One “is sending anybody anywhere”.
In January 2014, German former astronaut Ulrich Walter strongly criticized the project for ethical reasons. Speaking with Tagesspiegel, he estimated the probability of reaching Mars alive at only 30%, and that of surviving there more than three months at less than 20%. He said, “They make their money with that [TV] show. They don’t care what happens to those people in space… If my tax money were used for such a mission, I would organize a protest.”
Space tourist Richard Garriott stated in response to Mars One, “Many have interesting viable starting plans. Few raise the money to be able to pull it off.”
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin said in an interview that he wants to see humans on Mars by 2035, but he does not think Mars One will be the first to achieve it.
Wired magazine gave it a plausibility score of 2 out of 10 as part of their 2012 Most Audacious Private Space Exploration Plans.
The Daily Mail enumerated reasons why the project will never happen, calling the project “foolish”. The project lacks current funding as well as sources for future funding. The organization has no spacecraft or rocket in development or any contracts in place with companies that could provide a spacecraft or rocket. While plans point to SpaceX for both resources, the company has no contracts with Mars One in an industry that typically plans contracts decades in advance. The organization has not shared any research into the effects of microgravity on crews in flight or reduced gravity on the Mars surface. The organization has yet to provide plans or even study how crews might survive dust storms, supply challenges or the increased radiation on Mars.
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Mars One – Wikipedia
Posted: October 23, 2016 at 4:22 am
NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is an international alliance that consists of 28 member states from North America and Europe. It was established at the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Article Five of the treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it should be considered an attack against all members, and other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.
Of the 28 member countries, two are located in North America (Canada and the United States) and 25 are European countries while Turkey is in Eurasia. All members have militaries, except for Iceland which does not have a typical army (but does, however, have a coast guard and a small unit of civilian specialists for NATO operations). Three of NATO’s members are nuclear weapons states: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO has 12 original founding member nation states, and from 18 February 1952 to 6 May 1955, it added 3 more member nations, and a fourth on 30 May 1982. After the end of the Cold War, NATO added 12 more member nations (10 former Warsaw Pact members and 2 former Yugoslav republics) from 12 March 1999 to 1 April 2009.
NATO has added new members six times since its founding in 1949, and since 2009 NATO has had 28 members. Twelve countries were part of the founding of NATO: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1952, Greece and Turkey became members of the Alliance, joined later by West Germany (in 1955) and Spain (in 1982). In 1990, with the reunification of Germany, NATO grew to include the former country of East Germany. Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, including the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1997, three former Warsaw Pact countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO. After this fourth enlargement in 1999, the Vilnius group of The Baltics and seven East European countries formed in May 2000 to cooperate and lobby for further NATO membership. Seven of these countries joined in the fifth enlargement in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in the sixth enlargement in 2009.
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Posted: October 20, 2016 at 11:35 pm
Immortality is eternal life, the ability to live forever.Natural selection has developed potential biological immortality in at least one species, Turritopsis dohrnii.
Certain scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body (either through an immortal cell line researched or else deeper contextual understanding in advanced fields that have certain scope in the proposed long term reality that can be attained such as per mentioned in the reading of an article or scientific documentation of such a proposed idea would lead to), and advocate that human immortality is achievable in the first few decades of the 21st century, whereas other advocates believe that life extension is a more achievable goal in the short term, with immortality awaiting further research breakthroughs into an indefinite future. The absence of aging would provide humans with biological immortality, but not invulnerability to death by physical trauma; although mind uploading could solve that issue if it proved possible. Whether the process of internal endoimmortality would be delivered within the upcoming years depends chiefly on research (and in neuron research in the case of endoimmortality through an immortalized cell line) in the former view and perhaps is an awaited goal in the latter case.
In religious contexts, immortality is often stated to be one of the promises of God (or other deities) to human beings who show goodness or else follow divine law. What form an unending human life would take, or whether an immaterial soul exists and possesses immortality, has been a major point of focus of religion, as well as the subject of speculation, fantasy, and debate.
Life extension technologies promise a path to complete rejuvenation. Cryonics holds out the hope that the dead can be revived in the future, following sufficient medical advancements. While, as shown with creatures such as hydra and planarian worms, it is indeed possible for a creature to be biologically immortal, it is not known if it is possible for humans.
Mind uploading is the transference of brain states from a human brain to an alternative medium providing similar functionality. Assuming the process to be possible and repeatable, this would provide immortality to the computation of the original brain, as predicted by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil.
The belief in an afterlife is a fundamental tenet of most religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism, and the Bah’ Faith; however, the concept of an immortal soul is not. The “soul” itself has different meanings and is not used in the same way in different religions and different denominations of a religion. For example, various branches of Christianity have disagreeing views on the soul’s immortality and its relation to the body.
Physical immortality is a state of life that allows a person to avoid death and maintain conscious thought. It can mean the unending existence of a person from a physical source other than organic life, such as a computer. Active pursuit of physical immortality can either be based on scientific trends, such as cryonics, digital immortality, breakthroughs in rejuvenation or predictions of an impending technological singularity, or because of a spiritual belief, such as those held by Rastafarians or Rebirthers.
There are three main causes of death: aging, disease and physical trauma. Such issues can be resolved with the solutions provided in research to any end providing such alternate theories at present that require unification.
Aubrey de Grey, a leading researcher in the field, defines aging as “a collection of cumulative changes to the molecular and cellular structure of an adult organism, which result in essential metabolic processes, but which also, once they progress far enough, increasingly disrupt metabolism, resulting in pathology and death.” The current causes of aging in humans are cell loss (without replacement), DNA damage, oncogenic nuclear mutations and epimutations, cell senescence, mitochondrial mutations, lysosomal aggregates, extracellular aggregates, random extracellular cross-linking, immune system decline, and endocrine changes. Eliminating aging would require finding a solution to each of these causes, a program de Grey calls engineered negligible senescence. There is also a huge body of knowledge indicating that change is characterized by the loss of molecular fidelity.
Disease is theoretically surmountable via technology. In short, it is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism, something the body shouldn’t typically have to deal with its natural make up. Human understanding of genetics is leading to cures and treatments for myriad previously incurable diseases. The mechanisms by which other diseases do their damage are becoming better understood. Sophisticated methods of detecting diseases early are being developed. Preventative medicine is becoming better understood. Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may soon be curable with the use of stem cells. Breakthroughs in cell biology and telomere research are leading to treatments for cancer. Vaccines are being researched for AIDS and tuberculosis. Genes associated with type 1 diabetes and certain types of cancer have been discovered, allowing for new therapies to be developed. Artificial devices attached directly to the nervous system may restore sight to the blind. Drugs are being developed to treat a myriad of other diseases and ailments.
Physical trauma would remain as a threat to perpetual physical life, as an otherwise immortal person would still be subject to unforeseen accidents or catastrophes. The speed and quality of paramedic response remains a determining factor in surviving severe trauma. A body that could automatically repair itself from severe trauma, such as speculated uses for nanotechnology, would mitigate this factor. Being the seat of consciousness, the brain cannot be risked to trauma if a continuous physical life is to be maintained. This aversion to trauma risk to the brain would naturally result in significant behavioral changes that would render physical immortality undesirable.
Organisms otherwise unaffected by these causes of death would still face the problem of obtaining sustenance (whether from currently available agricultural processes or from hypothetical future technological processes) in the face of changing availability of suitable resources as environmental conditions change. After avoiding aging, disease, and trauma, you could still starve to death.
If there is no limitation on the degree of gradual mitigation of risk then it is possible that the cumulative probability of death over an infinite horizon is less than certainty, even when the risk of fatal trauma in any finite period is greater than zero. Mathematically, this is an aspect of achieving “actuarial escape velocity”
Biological immortality is an absence of aging, specifically the absence of a sustained increase in rate of mortality as a function of chronological age. A cell or organism that does not experience aging, or ceases to age at some point, is biologically immortal.
Biologists have chosen the word immortal to designate cells that are not limited by the Hayflick limit, where cells no longer divide because of DNA damage or shortened telomeres. The first and still most widely used immortal cell line is HeLa, developed from cells taken from the malignant cervical tumor of Henrietta Lacks without her consent in 1951. Prior to the 1961 work of Leonard Hayflick, there was the erroneous belief fostered by Alexis Carrel that all normal somatic cells are immortal. By preventing cells from reaching senescence one can achieve biological immortality; telomeres, a “cap” at the end of DNA, are thought to be the cause of cell aging. Every time a cell divides the telomere becomes a bit shorter; when it is finally worn down, the cell is unable to split and dies. Telomerase is an enzyme which rebuilds the telomeres in stem cells and cancer cells, allowing them to replicate an infinite number of times. No definitive work has yet demonstrated that telomerase can be used in human somatic cells to prevent healthy tissues from aging. On the other hand, scientists hope to be able to grow organs with the help of stem cells, allowing organ transplants without the risk of rejection, another step in extending human life expectancy. These technologies are the subject of ongoing research, and are not yet realized.
Life defined as biologically immortal is still susceptible to causes of death besides aging, including disease and trauma, as defined above. Notable immortal species include:
As the existence of biologically immortal species demonstrates, there is no thermodynamic necessity for senescence: a defining feature of life is that it takes in free energy from the environment and unloads its entropy as waste. Living systems can even build themselves up from seed, and routinely repair themselves. Aging is therefore presumed to be a byproduct of evolution, but why mortality should be selected for remains a subject of research and debate. Programmed cell death and the telomere “end replication problem” are found even in the earliest and simplest of organisms. This may be a tradeoff between selecting for cancer and selecting for aging.
Modern theories on the evolution of aging include the following:
There are some known naturally occurring and artificially produced chemicals that may increase the lifetime or life-expectancy of a person or organism, such as resveratrol.
Some scientists believe that boosting the amount or proportion of telomerase in the body, a naturally forming enzyme that helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, could prevent cells from dying and so may ultimately lead to extended, healthier lifespans. A team of researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Centre (Madrid) tested the hypothesis on mice. It was found that those mice which were genetically engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase lived 50% longer than normal mice.
In normal circumstances, without the presence of telomerase, if a cell divides repeatedly, at some point all the progeny will reach their Hayflick limit. With the presence of telomerase, each dividing cell can replace the lost bit of DNA, and any single cell can then divide unbounded. While this unbounded growth property has excited many researchers, caution is warranted in exploiting this property, as exactly this same unbounded growth is a crucial step in enabling cancerous growth. If an organism can replicate its body cells faster, then it would theoretically stop aging.
Embryonic stem cells express telomerase, which allows them to divide repeatedly and form the individual. In adults, telomerase is highly expressed in cells that need to divide regularly (e.g., in the immune system), whereas most somatic cells express it only at very low levels in a cell-cycle dependent manner.
Technological immortality is the prospect for much longer life spans made possible by scientific advances in a variety of fields: nanotechnology, emergency room procedures, genetics, biological engineering, regenerative medicine, microbiology, and others. Contemporary life spans in the advanced industrial societies are already markedly longer than those of the past because of better nutrition, availability of health care, standard of living and bio-medical scientific advances. Technological immortality predicts further progress for the same reasons over the near term. An important aspect of current scientific thinking about immortality is that some combination of human cloning, cryonics or nanotechnology will play an essential role in extreme life extension. Robert Freitas, a nanorobotics theorist, suggests tiny medical nanorobots could be created to go through human bloodstreams, find dangerous things like cancer cells and bacteria, and destroy them. Freitas anticipates that gene-therapies and nanotechnology will eventually make the human body effectively self-sustainable and capable of living indefinitely in empty space, short of severe brain trauma. This supports the theory that we will be able to continually create biological or synthetic replacement parts to replace damaged or dying ones. Future advances in nanomedicine could give rise to life extension through the repair of many processes thought to be responsible for aging. K. Eric Drexler, one of the founders of nanotechnology, postulated cell repair devices, including ones operating within cells and utilizing as yet hypothetical biological machines, in his 1986 book Engines of Creation. Raymond Kurzweil, a futurist and transhumanist, stated in his book The Singularity Is Near that he believes that advanced medical nanorobotics could completely remedy the effects of aging by 2030. According to Richard Feynman, it was his former graduate student and collaborator Albert Hibbs who originally suggested to him (circa 1959) the idea of a medical use for Feynman’s theoretical micromachines (see nanobiotechnology). Hibbs suggested that certain repair machines might one day be reduced in size to the point that it would, in theory, be possible to (as Feynman put it) “swallow the doctor”. The idea was incorporated into Feynman’s 1959 essay There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.
Cryonics, the practice of preserving organisms (either intact specimens or only their brains) for possible future revival by storing them at cryogenic temperatures where metabolism and decay are almost completely stopped, can be used to ‘pause’ for those who believe that life extension technologies will not develop sufficiently within their lifetime. Ideally, cryonics would allow clinically dead people to be brought back in the future after cures to the patients’ diseases have been discovered and aging is reversible. Modern cryonics procedures use a process called vitrification which creates a glass-like state rather than freezing as the body is brought to low temperatures. This process reduces the risk of ice crystals damaging the cell-structure, which would be especially detrimental to cell structures in the brain, as their minute adjustment evokes the individual’s mind.
One idea that has been advanced involves uploading an individual’s habits and memories via direct mind-computer interface. The individual’s memory may be loaded to a computer or to a new organic body. Extropian futurists like Moravec and Kurzweil have proposed that, thanks to exponentially growing computing power, it will someday be possible to upload human consciousness onto a computer system, and exist indefinitely in a virtual environment. This could be accomplished via advanced cybernetics, where computer hardware would initially be installed in the brain to help sort memory or accelerate thought processes. Components would be added gradually until the person’s entire brain functions were handled by artificial devices, avoiding sharp transitions that would lead to issues of identity, thus running the risk of the person to be declared dead and thus not be a legitimate owner of his or her property. After this point, the human body could be treated as an optional accessory and the program implementing the person could be transferred to any sufficiently powerful computer. Another possible mechanism for mind upload is to perform a detailed scan of an individual’s original, organic brain and simulate the entire structure in a computer. What level of detail such scans and simulations would need to achieve to emulate awareness, and whether the scanning process would destroy the brain, is still to be determined. Whatever the route to mind upload, persons in this state could then be considered essentially immortal, short of loss or traumatic destruction of the machines that maintained them.[clarification needed]
Transforming a human into a cyborg can include brain implants or extracting a human processing unit and placing it in a robotic life-support system. Even replacing biological organs with robotic ones could increase life span (i.e., pace makers) and depending on the definition, many technological upgrades to the body, like genetic modifications or the addition of nanobots would qualify an individual as a cyborg. Some people believe that such modifications would make one impervious to aging and disease and theoretically immortal unless killed or destroyed.
Another approach, developed by biogerontologist Marios Kyriazis, holds that human biological immortality is an inevitable consequence of evolution. As the natural tendency is to create progressively more complex structures, there will be a time (Kyriazis claims this time is now), when evolution of a more complex human brain will be faster via a process of developmental singularity rather than through Darwinian evolution. In other words, the evolution of the human brain as we know it will cease and there will be no need for individuals to procreate and then die. Instead, a new type of development will take over, in the same individual who will have to live for many centuries in order for the development to take place. This intellectual development will be facilitated by technology such as synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and a technological singularity process.
As late as 1952, the editorial staff of the Syntopicon found in their compilation of the Great Books of the Western World, that “The philosophical issue concerning immortality cannot be separated from issues concerning the existence and nature of man’s soul.” Thus, the vast majority of speculation regarding immortality before the 21st century was regarding the nature of the afterlife.
Immortality in ancient Greek religion originally always included an eternal union of body and soul as can be seen in Homer, Hesiod, and various other ancient texts. The soul was considered to have an eternal existence in Hades, but without the body the soul was considered dead. Although almost everybody had nothing to look forward to but an eternal existence as a disembodied dead soul, a number of men and women were considered to have gained physical immortality and been brought to live forever in either Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed, heaven, the ocean or literally right under the ground. Among these were Amphiaraus, Ganymede, Ino, Iphigenia, Menelaus, Peleus, and a great part of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars. Some were considered to have died and been resurrected before they achieved physical immortality. Asclepius was killed by Zeus only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. In some versions of the Trojan War myth, Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis, resurrected, and brought to an immortal existence in either Leuce, the Elysian plains, or the Islands of the Blessed. Memnon, who was killed by Achilles, seems to have received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality. According to Herodotus’ Histories, the 7th century BC sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he was found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality.
The philosophical idea of an immortal soul was a belief first appearing with either Pherecydes or the Orphics, and most importantly advocated by Plato and his followers. This, however, never became the general norm in Hellenistic thought. As may be witnessed even into the Christian era, not least by the complaints of various philosophers over popular beliefs, many or perhaps most traditional Greeks maintained the conviction that certain individuals were resurrected from the dead and made physically immortal and that others could only look forward to an existence as disembodied and dead, though everlasting, souls. The parallel between these traditional beliefs and the later resurrection of Jesus was not lost on the early Christians, as Justin Martyr argued: “when we say… Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus.” (1 Apol. 21).
The goal of Hinayana is Arhatship and Nirvana. By contrast, the goal of Mahayana is Buddhahood.
According to one Tibetan Buddhist teaching, Dzogchen, individuals can transform the physical body into an immortal body of light called the rainbow body.
Christian theology holds that Adam and Eve lost physical immortality for themselves and all their descendants in the Fall of Man, although this initial “imperishability of the bodily frame of man” was “a preternatural condition”. Christians who profess the Nicene Creed believe that every dead person (whether they believed in Christ or not) will be resurrected from the dead at the Second Coming, and this belief is known as Universal resurrection.
N.T. Wright, a theologian and former Bishop of Durham, has said many people forget the physical aspect of what Jesus promised. He told Time: “Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will ‘awake’, be embodied and participate in the renewal. Wright says John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: ‘God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves.’ That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death (the Intermediate state) is a period when we are in God’s presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ’s kingdom.” This kingdom will consist of Heaven and Earth “joined together in a new creation”, he said.
Hindus believe in an immortal soul which is reincarnated after death. According to Hinduism, people repeat a process of life, death, and rebirth in a cycle called samsara. If they live their life well, their karma improves and their station in the next life will be higher, and conversely lower if they live their life poorly. After many life times of perfecting its karma, the soul is freed from the cycle and lives in perpetual bliss. There is no place of eternal torment in Hinduism, although if a soul consistently lives very evil lives, it could work its way down to the very bottom of the cycle.
There are explicit renderings in the Upanishads alluding to a physically immortal state brought about by purification, and sublimation of the 5 elements that make up the body. For example, in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (Chapter 2, Verse 12), it is stated “When earth, water fire, air and akasa arise, that is to say, when the five attributes of the elements, mentioned in the books on yoga, become manifest then the yogi’s body becomes purified by the fire of yoga and he is free from illness, old age and death.” This phenomenon is possible when the soul reaches enlightenment while the body and mind are still intact, an extreme rarity, and can only be achieved upon the highest most dedication, meditation and consciousness.
Another view of immortality is traced to the Vedic tradition by the interpretation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:
That man indeed whom these (contacts) do not disturb, who is even-minded in pleasure and pain, steadfast, he is fit for immortality, O best of men.
To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the verse means, “Once a man has become established in the understanding of the permanent reality of life, his mind rises above the influence of pleasure and pain. Such an unshakable man passes beyond the influence of death and in the permanent phase of life: he attains eternal life… A man established in the understanding of the unlimited abundance of absolute existence is naturally free from existence of the relative order. This is what gives him the status of immortal life.”
An Indian Tamil saint known as Vallalar claimed to have achieved immortality before disappearing forever from a locked room in 1874.
Many Indian fables and tales include instances of metempsychosisthe ability to jump into another bodyperformed by advanced Yogis in order to live a longer life.
The traditional concept of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body was not found in Judaism before the Babylonian Exile, but developed as a result of interaction with Persian and Hellenistic philosophies. Accordingly, the Hebrew word nephesh, although translated as “soul” in some older English Bibles, actually has a meaning closer to “living being”.Nephesh was rendered in the Septuagint as (psch), the Greek word for soul.
The only Hebrew word traditionally translated “soul” (nephesh) in English language Bibles refers to a living, breathing conscious body, rather than to an immortal soul. In the New Testament, the Greek word traditionally translated “soul” () has substantially the same meaning as the Hebrew, without reference to an immortal soul. Soul may refer to the whole person, the self: three thousand souls were converted in Acts 2:41 (see Acts 3:23).
The Hebrew Bible speaks about Sheol (), originally a synonym of the grave-the repository of the dead or the cessation of existence until the Resurrection. This doctrine of resurrection is mentioned explicitly only in Daniel 12:14 although it may be implied in several other texts. New theories arose concerning Sheol during the intertestamental literature.
The views about immortality in Judaism is perhaps best exemplified by the various references to this in Second Temple Period. The concept of resurrection of the physical body is found in 2 Maccabees, according to which it will happen through recreation of the flesh. Resurrection of the dead also appears in detail in the extra-canonical books of Enoch, and in Apocalypse of Baruch. According to the British scholar in ancient Judaism Philip R. Davies, there is little or no clear reference either to immortality or to resurrection from the dead in the Dead Sea scrolls texts. Both Josephus and the New Testament record that the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife, but the sources vary on the beliefs of the Pharisees. The New Testament claims that the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but does not specify whether this included the flesh or not. According to Josephus, who himself was a Pharisee, the Pharisees held that only the soul was immortal and the souls of good people will be reincarnated and pass into other bodies, while the souls of the wicked will suffer eternal punishment. Jubilees seems to refer to the resurrection of the soul only, or to a more general idea of an immortal soul.
Rabbinic Judaism claims that the righteous dead will be resurrected in the Messianic age with the coming of the messiah. They will then be granted immortality in a perfect world. The wicked dead, on the other hand, will not be resurrected at all. This is not the only Jewish belief about the afterlife. The Tanakh is not specific about the afterlife, so there are wide differences in views and explanations among believers.
It is repeatedly stated in Lshi Chunqiu that death is unavoidable.Henri Maspero noted that many scholarly works frame Taoism as a school of thought focused on the quest for immortality. Isabelle Robinet asserts that Taoism is better understood as a way of life than as a religion, and that its adherents do not approach or view Taoism the way non-Taoist historians have done. In the Tractate of Actions and their Retributions, a traditional teaching, spiritual immortality can be rewarded to people who do a certain amount of good deeds and live a simple, pure life. A list of good deeds and sins are tallied to determine whether or not a mortal is worthy. Spiritual immortality in this definition allows the soul to leave the earthly realms of afterlife and go to pure realms in the Taoist cosmology.
Zoroastrians believe that on the fourth day after death, the human soul leaves the body and the body remains as an empty shell. Souls would go to either heaven or hell; these concepts of the afterlife in Zoroastrianism may have influenced Abrahamic religions. The Persian word for “immortal” is associated with the month “Amurdad”, meaning “deathless” in Persian, in the Iranian calendar (near the end of July). The month of Amurdad or Ameretat is celebrated in Persian culture as ancient Persians believed the “Angel of Immortality” won over the “Angel of Death” in this month.
The possibility of clinical immortality raises a host of medical, philosophical, and religious issues and ethical questions. These include persistent vegetative states, the nature of personality over time, technology to mimic or copy the mind or its processes, social and economic disparities created by longevity, and survival of the heat death of the universe.
The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the first literary works, is primarily a quest of a hero seeking to become immortal.
Physical immortality has also been imagined as a form of eternal torment, as in Mary Shelley’s short story “The Mortal Immortal”, the protagonist of which witnesses everyone he cares about dying around him. Jorge Luis Borges explored the idea that life gets its meaning from death in the short story “The Immortal”; an entire society having achieved immortality, they found time becoming infinite, and so found no motivation for any action. In his book “Thursday’s Fictions”, and the stage and film adaptations of it, Richard James Allen tells the story of a woman named Thursday who tries to cheat the cycle of reincarnation to get a form of eternal life. At the end of this fantastical tale, her son, Wednesday, who has witnessed the havoc his mother’s quest has caused, forgoes the opportunity for immortality when it is offered to him. Likewise, the novel Tuck Everlasting depicts immortality as “falling off the wheel of life” and is viewed as a curse as opposed to a blessing. In the anime Casshern Sins humanity achieves immortality due to advances in medical technology, however the inability of the human race to die causes Luna, a Messianic figure, to come forth and offer normal lifespans because she had believed that without death, humans could not live. Ultimately, Casshern takes up the cause of death for humanity when Luna begins to restore humanity’s immortality. In Anne Rice’s book series “The Vampire Chronicles”, vampires are portrayed as immortal and ageless, but their inability to cope with the changes in the world around them means that few vampires live for much more than a century, and those who do often view their changeless form as a curse.
Although some scientists state that radical life extension, delaying and stopping aging are achievable, there are no international or national programs focused on stopping aging or on radical life extension. In 2012 in Russia, and then in the United States, Israel and the Netherlands, pro-immortality political parties were launched. They aimed to provide political support to anti-aging and radical life extension research and technologies and at the same time transition to the next step, radical life extension, life without aging, and finally, immortality and aim to make possible access to such technologies to most currently living people.
There are numerous symbols representing immortality. The ankh is an Egyptian symbol of life that holds connotations of immortality when depicted in the hands of the gods and pharaohs, who were seen as having control over the journey of life. The Mbius strip in the shape of a trefoil knot is another symbol of immortality. Most symbolic representations of infinity or the life cycle are often used to represent immortality depending on the context they are placed in. Other examples include the Ouroboros, the Chinese fungus of longevity, the ten kanji, the phoenix, the peacock in Christianity, and the colors amaranth (in Western culture) and peach (in Chinese culture).
Immortal species abound in fiction, especially in fantasy literature.
Posted: September 10, 2016 at 5:34 am
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Spaceflight (also written space flight) is ballistic flight into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft with or without humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the U.S. Apollo Moon landing and Space Shuttle programs and the Russian Soyuz program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station. Examples of unmanned spaceflight include space probes that leave Earth orbit, as well as satellites in orbit around Earth, such as communications satellites. These operate either by telerobotic control or are fully autonomous.
Spaceflight is used in space exploration, and also in commercial activities like space tourism and satellite telecommunications. Additional non-commercial uses of spaceflight include space observatories, reconnaissance satellites and other Earth observation satellites.
A spaceflight typically begins with a rocket launch, which provides the initial thrust to overcome the force of gravity and propels the spacecraft from the surface of the Earth. Once in space, the motion of a spacecraftboth when unpropelled and when under propulsionis covered by the area of study called astrodynamics. Some spacecraft remain in space indefinitely, some disintegrate during atmospheric reentry, and others reach a planetary or lunar surface for landing or impact.
The first theoretical proposal of space travel using rockets was published by Scottish astronomer and mathematician William Leitch, in an 1861 essay “A Journey Through Space”. More well-known (though not widely outside Russia) is Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s work, ” ” (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices), published in 1903.
Spaceflight became an engineering possibility with the work of Robert H. Goddard’s publication in 1919 of his paper “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes”. His application of the de Laval nozzle to liquid fuel rockets improved efficiency enough for interplanetary travel to become possible. He also proved in the laboratory that rockets would work in the vacuum of space[specify]; nonetheless, his work was not taken seriously by the public. His attempt to secure an Army contract for a rocket-propelled weapon in the first World War was defeated by the November 11, 1918 armistice with Germany.
Nonetheless, Goddard’s paper was highly influential on Hermann Oberth, who in turn influenced Wernher von Braun. Von Braun became the first to produce modern rockets as guided weapons, employed by Adolf Hitler . Von Braun’s V-2 was the first rocket to reach space, at an altitude of 189 kilometers (102 nautical miles) on a June 1944 test flight.
Tsiolkovsky’s rocketry work was not fully appreciated in his lifetime, but he influenced Sergey Korolev, who became the Soviet Union’s chief rocket designer under Joseph Stalin, to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry nuclear weapons as a counter measure to United States bomber planes. Derivatives of Korolev’s R-7 Semyorka missiles were used to launch the world’s first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957, and later the first human to orbit the Earth, Yuri Gagarin in Vostok 1, on April 12, 1961.
At the end of World War II, von Braun and most of his rocket team surrendered to the United States, and were expatriated to work on American missiles at what became the Army Ballistic Missile Agency. This work on missiles such as Juno I and Atlas enabled launch of the first US satellite Explorer 1 on February 1, 1958, and the first American in orbit, John Glenn in Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. As director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, Von Braun oversaw development of a larger class of rocket called Saturn, which allowed the US to send the first two humans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, to the Moon and back on Apollo 11 in July 1969. Over the same period, the Soviet Union secretly tried but failed to develop the N1 rocket to give them the capability to land one person on the Moon.
Rockets are the only means currently capable of reaching orbit or beyond. Other non-rocket spacelaunch technologies have yet to be built, or remain short of orbital speeds. A rocket launch for a spaceflight usually starts from a spaceport (cosmodrome), which may be equipped with launch complexes and launch pads for vertical rocket launches, and runways for takeoff and landing of carrier airplanes and winged spacecraft. Spaceports are situated well away from human habitation for noise and safety reasons. ICBMs have various special launching facilities.
A launch is often restricted to certain launch windows. These windows depend upon the position of celestial bodies and orbits relative to the launch site. The biggest influence is often the rotation of the Earth itself. Once launched, orbits are normally located within relatively constant flat planes at a fixed angle to the axis of the Earth, and the Earth rotates within this orbit.
A launch pad is a fixed structure designed to dispatch airborne vehicles. It generally consists of a launch tower and flame trench. It is surrounded by equipment used to erect, fuel, and maintain launch vehicles.
The most commonly used definition of outer space is everything beyond the Krmn line, which is 100 kilometers (62mi) above the Earth’s surface. The United States sometimes defines outer space as everything beyond 50 miles (80km) in altitude.
Rockets are the only currently practical means of reaching space. Conventional airplane engines cannot reach space due to the lack of oxygen. Rocket engines expel propellant to provide forward thrust that generates enough delta-v (change in velocity) to reach orbit.
For manned launch systems launch escape systems are frequently fitted to allow astronauts to escape in the case of catastrophic failures.
Achieving a closed orbit is not essential to lunar and interplanetary voyages. Early Russian space vehicles successfully achieved very high altitudes without going into orbit. NASA considered launching Apollo missions directly into lunar trajectories but adopted the strategy of first entering a temporary parking orbit and then performing a separate burn several orbits later onto a lunar trajectory. This costs additional propellant because the parking orbit perigee must be high enough to prevent reentry while direct injection can have an arbitrarily low perigee because it will never be reached.
However, the parking orbit approach greatly simplified Apollo mission planning in several important ways. It substantially widened the allowable launch windows, increasing the chance of a successful launch despite minor technical problems during the countdown. The parking orbit was a stable “mission plateau” that gave the crew and controllers several hours to thoroughly check out the spacecraft after the stresses of launch before committing it to a long lunar flight; the crew could quickly return to Earth, if necessary, or an alternate Earth-orbital mission could be conducted. The parking orbit also enabled translunar trajectories that avoided the densest parts of the Van Allen radiation belts.
Apollo missions minimized the performance penalty of the parking orbit by keeping its altitude as low as possible. For example, Apollo 15 used an unusually low parking orbit (even for Apollo) of 92.5 nmi by 91.5 nmi (171km by 169km) where there was significant atmospheric drag. But it was partially overcome by continuous venting of hydrogen from the third stage of the Saturn V, and was in any event tolerable for the short stay.
Robotic missions do not require an abort capability or radiation minimization, and because modern launchers routinely meet “instantaneous” launch windows, space probes to the Moon and other planets generally use direct injection to maximize performance. Although some might coast briefly during the launch sequence, they do not complete one or more full parking orbits before the burn that injects them onto an Earth escape trajectory.
Note that the escape velocity from a celestial body decreases with altitude above that body. However, it is more fuel-efficient for a craft to burn its fuel as close to the ground as possible; see Oberth effect and reference. This is another way to explain the performance penalty associated with establishing the safe perigee of a parking orbit.
Plans for future crewed interplanetary spaceflight missions often include final vehicle assembly in Earth orbit, such as NASA’s Project Orion and Russia’s Kliper/Parom tandem.
Astrodynamics is the study of spacecraft trajectories, particularly as they relate to gravitational and propulsion effects. Astrodynamics allows for a spacecraft to arrive at its destination at the correct time without excessive propellant use. An orbital maneuvering system may be needed to maintain or change orbits.
Non-rocket orbital propulsion methods include solar sails, magnetic sails, plasma-bubble magnetic systems, and using gravitational slingshot effects.
The term “transfer energy” means the total amount of energy imparted by a rocket stage to its payload. This can be the energy imparted by a first stage of a launch vehicle to an upper stage plus payload, or by an upper stage or spacecraft kick motor to a spacecraft.
Vehicles in orbit have large amounts of kinetic energy. This energy must be discarded if the vehicle is to land safely without vaporizing in the atmosphere. Typically this process requires special methods to protect against aerodynamic heating. The theory behind reentry was developed by Harry Julian Allen. Based on this theory, reentry vehicles present blunt shapes to the atmosphere for reentry. Blunt shapes mean that less than 1% of the kinetic energy ends up as heat that reaches the vehicle and the heat energy instead ends up in the atmosphere.
The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules all splashed down in the sea. These capsules were designed to land at relatively slow speeds. Russian capsules for Soyuz make use of braking rockets as were designed to touch down on land. The Space Shuttle and Buran glide to a touchdown at high speed.
After a successful landing the spacecraft, its occupants and cargo can be recovered. In some cases, recovery has occurred before landing: while a spacecraft is still descending on its parachute, it can be snagged by a specially designed aircraft. This mid-air retrieval technique was used to recover the film canisters from the Corona spy satellites.
Unmanned spaceflight is all spaceflight activity without a necessary human presence in space. This includes all space probes, satellites and robotic spacecraft and missions. Unmanned spaceflight is the opposite of manned spaceflight, which is usually called human spaceflight. Subcategories of unmanned spaceflight are robotic spacecraft (objects) and robotic space missions (activities). A robotic spacecraft is a unmanned spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe.
Unmanned space missions use remote-controlled spacecraft. The first unmanned space mission was Sputnik I, launched October 4, 1957 to orbit the Earth. Space missions where animals but no humans are on-board are considered unmanned missions.
Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to lower cost and lower risk factors. In addition, some planetary destinations such as Venus or the vicinity of Jupiter are too hostile for human survival, given current technology. Outer planets such as Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are too distant to reach with current crewed spaceflight technology, so telerobotic probes are the only way to explore them. Telerobotics also allows exploration of regions that are vulnerable to contamination by Earth micro-organisms since spacecraft can be sterilized. Humans can not be sterilized in the same way as a spaceship, as they coexist with numerous micro-organisms, and these micro-organisms are also hard to contain within a spaceship or spacesuit.
Telerobotics becomes telepresence when the time delay is short enough to permit control of the spacecraft in close to real time by humans. Even the two seconds light speed delay for the Moon is too far away for telepresence exploration from Earth. The L1 and L2 positions permit 400 ms round trip delays which is just close enough for telepresence operation. Telepresence has also been suggested as a way to repair satellites in Earth orbit from Earth. The Exploration Telerobotics Symposium in 2012 explored this and other topics.
The first human spaceflight was Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961, on which cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin of the USSR made one orbit around the Earth. In official Soviet documents, there is no mention of the fact that Gagarin parachuted the final seven miles. The international rules for aviation records stated that “The pilot remains in his craft from launch to landing”. This rule, if applied, would have “disqualified” Gagarin’s spaceflight. Currently, the only spacecraft regularly used for human spaceflight are the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft. The U.S. Space Shuttle fleet operated from April 1981 until July 2011. SpaceShipOne has conducted two human suborbital spaceflights.
On a sub-orbital spaceflight the spacecraft reaches space and then returns to the atmosphere after following a (primarily) ballistic trajectory. This is usually because of insufficient specific orbital energy, in which case a suborbital flight will last only a few minutes, but it is also possible for an object with enough energy for an orbit to have a trajectory that intersects the Earth’s atmosphere, sometimes after many hours. Pioneer 1 was NASA’s first space probe intended to reach the Moon. A partial failure caused it to instead follow a suborbital trajectory to an altitude of 113,854 kilometers (70,746mi) before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere 43 hours after launch.
The most generally recognized boundary of space is the Krmn line 100km above sea level. (NASA alternatively defines an astronaut as someone who has flown more than 50 miles (80km) above sea level.) It is not generally recognized by the public that the increase in potential energy required to pass the Krmn line is only about 3% of the orbital energy (potential plus kinetic energy) required by the lowest possible Earth orbit (a circular orbit just above the Krmn line.) In other words, it is far easier to reach space than to stay there. On May 17, 2004, Civilian Space eXploration Team launched the GoFast Rocket on a suborbital flight, the first amateur spaceflight. On June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne was used for the first privately funded human spaceflight.
Point-to-point sub-orbital spaceflight is a category of spaceflight in which a spacecraft uses a sub-orbital flight for transportation. This can provide a two-hour trip from London to Sydney, which would be much faster than what is currently over a twenty-hour flight. Today, no company offers this type of spaceflight for transportation. However, Virgin Galactic has plans for a spaceplane called SpaceShipThree, which could offer this service in the future. Suborbital spaceflight over an intercontinental distance requires a vehicle velocity that is only a little lower than the velocity required to reach low Earth orbit. If rockets are used, the size of the rocket relative to the payload is similar to an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Any intercontinental spaceflight has to surmount problems of heating during atmosphere re-entry that are nearly as large as those faced by orbital spaceflight.
A minimal orbital spaceflight requires much higher velocities than a minimal sub-orbital flight, and so it is technologically much more challenging to achieve. To achieve orbital spaceflight, the tangential velocity around the Earth is as important as altitude. In order to perform a stable and lasting flight in space, the spacecraft must reach the minimal orbital speed required for a closed orbit.
Interplanetary travel is travel between planets within a single planetary system. In practice, the use of the term is confined to travel between the planets of our Solar System.
Five spacecraft are currently leaving the Solar System on escape trajectories. The one farthest from the Sun is Voyager 1, which is more than 100 AU distant and is moving at 3.6 AU per year. In comparison, Proxima Centauri, the closest star other than the Sun, is 267,000 AU distant. It will take Voyager 1 over 74,000 years to reach this distance. Vehicle designs using other techniques, such as nuclear pulse propulsion are likely to be able to reach the nearest star significantly faster. Another possibility that could allow for human interstellar spaceflight is to make use of time dilation, as this would make it possible for passengers in a fast-moving vehicle to travel further into the future while aging very little, in that their great speed slows down the rate of passage of on-board time. However, attaining such high speeds would still require the use of some new, advanced method of propulsion.
Intergalactic travel involves spaceflight between galaxies, and is considered much more technologically demanding than even interstellar travel and, by current engineering terms, is considered science fiction.
Spacecraft are vehicles capable of controlling their trajectory through space.
The first ‘true spacecraft’ is sometimes said to be Apollo Lunar Module, since this was the only manned vehicle to have been designed for, and operated only in space; and is notable for its non aerodynamic shape.
Spacecraft today predominantly use rockets for propulsion, but other propulsion techniques such as ion drives are becoming more common, particularly for unmanned vehicles, and this can significantly reduce the vehicle’s mass and increase its delta-v.
Launch systems are used to carry a payload from Earth’s surface into outer space.
All launch vehicles contain a huge amount of energy that is needed for some part of it to reach orbit. There is therefore some risk that this energy can be released prematurely and suddenly, with significant effects. When a Delta II rocket exploded 13 seconds after launch on January 17, 1997, there were reports of store windows 10 miles (16km) away being broken by the blast.
Space is a fairly predictable environment, but there are still risks of accidental depressurization and the potential failure of equipment, some of which may be very newly developed.
In 2004 the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety was established in the Netherlands to further international cooperation and scientific advancement in space systems safety.
In a microgravity environment such as that provided by a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth, humans experience a sense of “weightlessness.” Short-term exposure to microgravity causes space adaptation syndrome, a self-limiting nausea caused by derangement of the vestibular system. Long-term exposure causes multiple health issues. The most significant is bone loss, some of which is permanent, but microgravity also leads to significant deconditioning of muscular and cardiovascular tissues.
Once above the atmosphere, radiation due to the Van Allen belts, solar radiation and cosmic radiation issues occur and increase. Further away from the Earth, solar flares can give a fatal radiation dose in minutes, and the health threat from cosmic radiation significantly increases the chances of cancer over a decade exposure or more.
In human spaceflight, the life support system is a group of devices that allow a human being to survive in outer space. NASA often uses the phrase Environmental Control and Life Support System or the acronym ECLSS when describing these systems for its human spaceflight missions. The life support system may supply: air, water and food. It must also maintain the correct body temperature, an acceptable pressure on the body and deal with the body’s waste products. Shielding against harmful external influences such as radiation and micro-meteorites may also be necessary. Components of the life support system are life-critical, and are designed and constructed using safety engineering techniques.
Space weather is the concept of changing environmental conditions in outer space. It is distinct from the concept of weather within a planetary atmosphere, and deals with phenomena involving ambient plasma, magnetic fields, radiation and other matter in space (generally close to Earth but also in interplanetary, and occasionally interstellar medium). “Space weather describes the conditions in space that affect Earth and its technological systems. Our space weather is a consequence of the behavior of the Sun, the nature of Earth’s magnetic field, and our location in the Solar System.”
Space weather exerts a profound influence in several areas related to space exploration and development. Changing geomagnetic conditions can induce changes in atmospheric density causing the rapid degradation of spacecraft altitude in Low Earth orbit. Geomagnetic storms due to increased solar activity can potentially blind sensors aboard spacecraft, or interfere with on-board electronics. An understanding of space environmental conditions is also important in designing shielding and life support systems for manned spacecraft.
Rockets as a class are not inherently grossly polluting. However, some rockets use toxic propellants, and most vehicles use propellants that are not carbon neutral. Many solid rockets have chlorine in the form of perchlorate or other chemicals, and this can cause temporary local holes in the ozone layer. Re-entering spacecraft generate nitrates which also can temporarily impact the ozone layer. Most rockets are made of metals that can have an environmental impact during their construction.
In addition to the atmospheric effects there are effects on the near-Earth space environment. There is the possibility that orbit could become inaccessible for generations due to exponentially increasing space debris caused by spalling of satellites and vehicles (Kessler syndrome). Many launched vehicles today are therefore designed to be re-entered after use.
Current and proposed applications for spaceflight include:
Most early spaceflight development was paid for by governments. However, today major launch markets such as Communication satellites and Satellite television are purely commercial, though many of the launchers were originally funded by governments.
Private spaceflight is a rapidly developing area: space flight that is not only paid for by corporations or even private individuals, but often provided by private spaceflight companies. These companies often assert that much of the previous high cost of access to space was caused by governmental inefficiencies they can avoid. This assertion can be supported by much lower published launch costs for private space launch vehicles such as Falcon 9 developed with private financing. Lower launch costs and excellent safety will be required for the applications such as Space tourism and especially Space colonization to become successful.
Media related to Spaceflight at Wikimedia Commons
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Posted: August 21, 2016 at 11:17 am
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Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm
Libertarians are practical — we know that we can’t make the world perfect. But, it can be better. Libertarians will keep working to create a better, freer society for everyone. The Libertarian Party is the only political party that respects your rights as a unique and competent individual. We want a system that allows all people to choose what they want from life…that let’s us live, work, play, and dream our own way.
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Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:11 am
strategic philosopher Max More
Dr. Max More is an internationally acclaimed strategic futurist who writes, speaks, and organizes events about the fundamental challenges of emerging technologies. Max is concerned that our rapidly developing technological capabilities are racing far ahead of our standard ways of thinking about future possibilities. His work aims to improve our ability to anticipate, adapt to, and shape the future for the better.
In developing, communicating, and implementing better ways of foreseeing possible futures and of making decisions under growing uncertainty, Max takes a highly interdisciplinary approach. Drawing on philosophy, economics, cognitive and social psychology, management theory, and other fields, he develops solutions and strategies for minimizing the dangers of progress and maximizing the benefits.
Dr. More co-founded and until 2007acted as Chairman of Extropy Institute, a diverse network of innovative thinkers committed to creating solutions to enduring humanproblems. He authored the Principles of Extropy, which form the core of a transhumanist perspective. As a leading transhumanist thinker, Max strongly challenges traditional, limiting beliefs about the possibilities of our future. At the same time, he tempers visionary aims with analytical and practical strategizing.
As a writer, Max has authored dozens of articles and papers on topics including how to improve and apply critical and creative thinking, especially about uncertain future possibilities; the ethics of biotechnology and other technologies that directly affect humans; the philosophical implications of technological transformations of human nature; and strategic futures thinking in business. He recently wrote the Proactionary Principle, the latest of influential pieces that include “The Principles of Extropy”, and A Letter to Mother Nature. He is currently working on a book, tentatively titled Beyond Caution, that responds to resurgent neophobia with a spirited yet balanced defense of progress.
As a speaker, Max frequently lectures at conferences and companies, gives seminars, and engages in debates and panel discussions on issues surrounding the impact of emerging technologies. Known as a highly capable communicator, he is able to synthesize diverse areas of knowledge and communicate the results clearly and insightfully.
As an organizer, Max brings together a diverse range of thinkers, scientists, philosophers, artists, and entrepreneurs to examine technological and social trends and then form individual and organizational strategies for flourishing in a time of accelerated change.
As a consultant, Max (as part of the ManyWorlds team) works with companies and other organizations to improve strategic futures thinking and weave it into regular decision-making and innovation processes. This includes analyzing the interaction of technological trends, and developing strategic scenarios.
His academic background: Max has a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from St. Annes College, Oxford University (1984-87). He was awarded a Deans Fellowship in Philosophy in 1987 by the University of Southern California. Max studied and taught philosophy at USC with an emphasis on philosophy of mind, ethics, and personal identity, completing his Ph.D. in 1995, with a dissertation that examined issues including the nature of death, and what it is about each individual that continues despite great change over time.
He is currently writing a book on the forces driving us into the future and how to apply cognitive and strategic tools to improve our thinking about the resulting issues.
Born in January 1964 in Bristol, in the Southwest of England of half-English, half-Welsh ancestry. Married since 1996 to Natasha Vita-More. After living for 15 years in the Los Angeles area, Max moved to Austin, Texas in 2002.
At least since watching the Apollo 11 moon landing at the age of 5, Max has always been fascinated by the possibilities offered by technology for overcoming limits. He started a personal life extension regimen in his early teens, and created several publications to discuss ideas about space colonization, life extension, cognitive enhancement, and liberty. His deep interest in economics shifted increasingly to philosophy as he formulated a “big picture” of possible futures. At the age of 40, More has been writing about these ideas and organizing practical activity for over 20 years. Before moving to the USA in 1987, he incorporated the first biostasis organization in Britain, generating considerable media coverage. His doctoral work on personal identity analyzed the effects of technology on the self, and alternatives to current conceptions of death and identity.
Max More has become a widely recognized thinker on the philosophical and cultural implications of advanced, emerging, and future technologies. Echoing the words of his instructors throughout his education, reporters have noted his ability to explain clearly and persuasively radical and complex ideas. Jim McClellan, in his major 1995 Observer (UK newspaper) article, said: “The funny thing about Max is that while his ideas are wild, he argues them so calmly and rationally you find yourself being drawn in.”
Maxs ideas and background have been described in publications such as Wired (where Ed Regis described him as “the primary intellectual force behind Extropianism”) The Village Voice, Icon, Knowledge@Wharton, The L.A. Weekly, GQ (Britain), GQ (Spain), The New York Times Magazine, Focus, .net, and ct (Germany), the national UK newspapers The Observer, The Guardian, and The Sunday Times.
His ideas have been discussed in books including Gundolf Freyermuths Cyberland, Brian Alexanders Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion, Damien Brodericks The Spike, Chris Dewdneys Last Flesh, Mark Derys Escape Velocity, Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us, by Rodney Brooks, Erik Daviss Techgnosis, among others.
Television and video appearances include a bioethics debate on Crossfire, two series on The Learning Channel and the Discovery Channel, documentaries in France, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, Chile, and Belgium, the Terry Wogan Show (then Britains top talk show); CNNs Futurewatch; the CBS series Mysteries of the Millennium; several appearances on Breakthroughs: A Transcentury Update cable TV show; the documentaries New Edge and the theatrical release Synthetic Pleasures; and many other television and radio shows. Dr. Mores thinking has been discussed in a dozen books. He has also appeared in at least two novels, but continues to insist that he is a real person.
When not working, he may be found scuba diving, skiing, shooting, or in the gym weight-training or running, or at home playing with his cats Quark and Quasar and his dog Oscar.
AND? DON’T BE BASHFUL…
Marvin Minsky, the father of artificial intelligence, said of Dr. More: We have a dreadful shortage of people who know so much, can both think so boldly and clearly, and can express themselves so articulately. Carl Sagan was another such oneand (partly by paying the price of his life) managed to capture the public eye. But Sagan is gone and has not been replaced. I see Max as my candidate for that post. Ray Kurzweil, author, inventor, and winner of the Presidential Medal for innovation in technology said: Max More’s ideas are very influential among other “big thinkers,” who in turn are influence leaders themselves. Max’s writings represent well grounded science futurism, and reflect a sophisticated understanding of technology trends and how these trends are likely to develop during this coming century.
Max More: email@example.com
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